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Small victories, large defeats.



Updated: 2017-04-23T17:15:00-04:00

 



Back-to-back-to-back: Phillies 5, Braves 2

2017-04-23T17:15:00-04:00

Lights-out pitching and a fabulous eighth inning lead the Phillies to a Sunday afternoon win. While on their way to a 5-2 win against the Braves today, the Phillies did something extraordinary. They did something they haven’t done in nearly a decade, and it was amazing. But let’s back up. Almost all of this game was a pitchers duel. Zach Eflin was absolutely fantastic, getting a bunch of his outs in the air and limiting the Braves to just three hits and one run. He retired the first ten hitters he faced before giving up a hit. That hit came in the top of the fourth, just one batter (and one commercial break) after Scott Franzke told the listeners that “Jim Jackson will take over the perfect game duties.” When the hit came, Jackson said “Blame Franzke, folks.” It was adorable. But there was no reason to blame anyone for anything, especially since a perfect game probably would have robbed us of the orgasmic eighth inning. Yes, I said orgasmic. Find me a word that better describes what we saw and I’ll use it, but until then I’m going with orgasmic. After Michael Saunders hit a pinch-hit double to lead off the inning, Cesar Hernandez came to the plate. And he hit a home run, breaking the 1-1 tie. With the Phillies now up 3-1, Aaron Altherr was up. And then HE hit a home run. After the Braves mercifully let Arodys Vizcaino leave the game to replaced by Ian Krol, it was Odubel Herrera’s turn... (You know where this is going, right?) ...to hit a home run! The Phillies went back-to-back-to-back, thwapping the Braves’ bullpen with their glorious bats. It was the eighth time the Phillies had hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in their history. And it was the first time they’d done it since June 13, 2008. They were playing the St. Louis Cardinals, and Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell hit three straight home runs in the first inning. (Swoon.) Up 5-1, it was time for Hector Neris in the ninth. And even though it was scary, I loved so much about it. The infielders came in two separate times to try and calm Neris down after a balk was called, trying to give him as much time as he needed. Pete Mackanin got Joaquin Benoit up in the bullpen (a little too slowly if you ask me, even with the result), but gave Neris a chance to get himself out of it. Neris isn’t the official closer (yet), but if he’s going to be, he has to be given the opportunity to grow, and a pitcher does that by facing difficult situations. The inning got off to a rocky start, and Hector allowed a run before loading the bases full of Braves, the winning run at the plate with just one out. But he got through it. A pitcher can only earn the trust of the manager when he’s given a chance to do it, and Mack is finally giving that to Neris. But what I loved the most about the ninth inning was the crowd. I never got a good visual grasp on how many people were actually there, but the attendance announced was just over 28,000. Regardless of how many of them were there, every single one of them was behind Neris on every single pitch. After the inning got off to a rocky start, they cheered with every strike, and were on their feet when the final out was gotten. It was absolutely wonderful. After the game was over, Hernandez was talking with Gregg Murphy when someone ran out and poured a random bottle of water on his head. Now, Cesar’s homer did break the tie. But... are they just pouring things on whoever talks to Gregg Murphy now? It’s clearly time to keep an eye on this. [...]



Game Thread 4/23: Braves at Phillies

2017-04-23T12:30:01-04:00

(image)

Can the Phillies actually win all three games in a series?

Last night was quite a trip, wasn’t it? Players coming alive, breaking out of their slumps, hitting walk-offs, and also screwing up in really obvious, inelegant ways.

God I love baseball.

Successes and screw ups, failures and first places, I just love baseball. And I love the Phillies. So... [looks at watch]... when is Rhys Hoskins getting here?

KIDDING! SORT OF! OKAY TIME FOR LINEUPS!

Today's Lineups

ATLANTA BRAVES PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Ender Inciarte - CF Cesar Hernandez - 2B
Brandon Phillips - 2B Aaron Altherr - RF
Freddie Freeman - 1B Odubel Herrera - CF
Matt Kemp - LF Maikel Franco - 3B
Nick Markakis - RF Daniel Nava - LF
Kurt Suzuki - C Brock Stassi - 1B
Jace Peterson - 3B Freddy Galvis - SS
Dansby Swanson - SS Andrew Knapp - C
Mike Foltynewicz - RHP Zach Eflin - RHP

I so badly want to give Zach Eflin the nickname “The Elf Man” for no reason other than his last name. I think it’s a nickname he wouldn’t like. Because he’s not an elf, he’s Porn Zorro (and a handsome one at that), but Porn Zorro isn’t a nickname we can give him, either. Well, we CAN. But no one will really use it.

Hey, if you want a game thread that makes sense, check out the ones I do during the work week. This is Sunday, and I don’t feel like I’m obligated to make sense.

Discuss (and enjoy!) the game in the comments below.




Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land: Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10)

2017-04-22T23:52:38-04:00

The Phillies won their third game in a row, beating the Braves in extra innings as Maikel Franco won the game. APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. -T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” We might also mix a number of things here: two subpar baseball teams whacking each other around like the blue and red Rock-’Em-Sock-’Em robots they are, some truly outstanding defense, good starting pitching, and baserunning that would leave you scratching your head, at best. Oh! And there was some lousy defense too, and short benches and bullpens that made this well, one of them there total team victories. The Phillies are now 8-9, and have won three in a row for the first time since August 13 last year. Dwell on it a bit and you realize that, even though the Phillies played a little punch-drunk at times last night and tonight, all the ingredients are there. They’re becoming far more resilient. And sure, it was the Braves, but if they were having Pyrrhic 1-run losses to the Mets and Nationals, they’re having 1-run wins over the Braves that leave you feeling as though there’s so much more the team is capable of, especially when you realize the bench was short, and their best two relievers, Juaquin Benoit and Hector Neris, were unavailable. The game began as a crisp pitchers’ duel, as the Braves’ Jaime Garcia and the Phillies Jerad Eickhoff faced off for a scoreless game through three. Atlanta took an early 1-0 lead as Brandon Phillips doubled home Freddy Freeman, who had led off the inning with a full-count walk. It was the only run Eickhoff would give up, and he would wind up pitching “only” five innings, walking two and striking out seven, surrendering just two hits in five innings. Please do not be bored noticing how good this young man is at pitching baseballs. It was not his best pitched game, and in fact was his shortest outing but even so, this video is now archived under “gives your team a chance to win every night,” which is comprised of, well, Jerad Eickhoff starts. The most interesting thing that happened offensively for the Phillies early on was this. Set your eyeballs to scorch: Welcome to Gwinnett @ryanhoward pic.twitter.com/UATwiHbapG— Gwinnett Braves (@GwinnettBraves) April 22, 2017 So far this year, 37.5% of all balls hit by Altherr have been categorized as “hard-hit” by Fangraphs, up from 29.5% last year and 29.3% in ‘15. He’s also taking the ball the opposite way a lot more, 37.5% of the time this year as opposed to 20.2% last year. When Altherr is going well, he is using all fields. As with everyone in the first few weeks of the season, statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt. Things tend to fluctuate wildly in the season’s opening month. But the eye test (which should never be used on its own, mind you) tells you how well he’s swinging the bat. When Kendrick returns and Saunders is feeling better, it’s likely Altherr will once again become the team’s fourth outfielder. But he has the next week-and-a-half to prove he should be getting regular run, even when the veterans come back. width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/318746373&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true"> [...]